The world turns on its dark side

It’s the winter solstice we’ve just had, however warm the weather in the UK has been.  There was still a strawberry ripening undeterred this week, though, and we managed an alfresco lunch last weekend, once it had warmed up.  So the weather is still a little odd – even the current storm seems to be hurling its fury North and South, whereas usually it makes a beeline for Wellington in the middle.

Last time was probably too close to the UK election to risk a puzzle from that earlier representative of things pan-continental, The European.  So here it is this time round.  I’ve also updated the European page as I’d noticed I’d missed linking to one I put up earlier this year.

The Independent has for some time now allowed setters to design their own grids – I’ve racked up over 300 of such designs so the opportunity must have been around a while (2005 seems a likely bet, judging by date-stamps on grids I haven’t subsequently revisited).  Today I found myself with a ‘Nina’ that would happily sit in a pre-existing grid – indeed, I think it was easier to use such – so I riffled through some of the original grids (settling on no. 22).  It was rather nostalgic, so I may start resurrecting some separately from any that suit a passing Nina.  Grid 15 is first on the list – the rather savage one with multiply interlocking 15- and 9-letter entries.  Partway through filling it I did wonder whether nostalgia was quite as benign as all that…

There’ll be an update next weekend to accommodate the setter’s blog for this month’s Magpie puzzle.  Before that there will be a Toughie on 29 June while beyond it is an Enigmatic Variations on July 2, and a Times on 6 July.  There’s also an unexpected appearance by Hellphire in the July edition of the Crossword Club magazine CROSSWORD.  Independent Friday service is set to continue as normal…except when it doesn’t – keep your eyes peeled!


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